To My Son's Nurses, I'm So Sorry You Have to Put Up With Me

As a mom who has been in and out of the hospital with my son his whole life, please believe me when I say I’m sorry. I know I’m one of those nightmare parents you go back to the nurse station and talk about. Please believe me — there is nothing I want less than to make your job harder.

There’s a reason I am this way. There was a point in time where I sat and watched my newborn baby fight off septic shock. I watched as machines breathed for him, I watched as the drains emptied infection from his small body, I watched as my son almost died.

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Of course, you guys were there right beside me, taking a little more time explaining what the arterial line in his neck was for than his surgeons did. You guys were there when I was finally able hold him for the first time in weeks. You were the ones who picked up my sedated newborn, along with all his lines, drains and ventilator and handed him to me. Who handed me tissues as I cried, who took my phone off the table and took pictures of me and him without me knowing. Pictures I will truly cherish forever. 

You guys were always as excited as me when his white blood cell count went down a little. “One day closer to getting the hell out of here,” I remember one of you saying. A nurse was the one who showed me how to care for my son’s colostomy bag the first time. I don’t think nurses get enough credit, so believe me when I say I do not mean to be the mom who makes your job harder than it is. 

When you watch your child go through the things I have watched my son go through, to fight off septic shock at 3 weeks old, to survive a bowel perforation that caused his stool to leak through his entire body cavity, to having multiple surgeries, multiple bowel obstructions, multiple infections, stoma revisions, dilations and irrigation treatments twice a day for months, you learn a thing or two about your child. I know normal post op behavior for him. I just know what’s normal.

So when it’s 3 a.m. and my sweet boy is only a few hours post-op, please don’t think I’m ridiculous for saying, “He feels too hot,” “He’s in too much pain,” or “Something just isn’t right.” Mother’s intuition is incredibly strong, especially when I have been through this so many times. Check his temperature, page the on-call for permission to give more pain meds, and don’t be surprised when I ask you to ask for an abdominal X-ray because I know something just is not right. You’d be surprised how many times the X-ray has shown impacted stool and an obstruction. You would be surprised how many times my son has started throwing up shortly after, how many times he’s gotten the NG tube just in time for relief because I have been that mom.

Many of you know me and my son now and have come to trust that I know my son better than anyone. I am thankful for this, but at the same time incredibly sad you do know us so well. I don’t mean to be the nightmare parent who tells you he’s finally ready for clear liquids and asks if you’ll ask the doctor. I am so thankful for nurses. You all do a job I could never do.

Not all angels have wings — some wear scrubs.

Follow this journey on Dear Dallas.

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